HC Deb 06 February 1984 vol 53 cc601-2
67. Mr. Soames

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further proposals he has for strengthening co-operation between British industry and the aid programme.

Mr. Raison

I consider it important to improve liaison with the private sector and have taken a number of practical steps to bring it about. I have appointed a commercial liaison officer to act as a first point of call for inquirers and have arranged informal discussions with business men for the interchange of views and ideas.

Mr. Soames

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, in view of the importance of this sector, British industry will be grateful for the steps taken by my right hon. Friend further to familiarise himself with the situation? Will he assure the House that he will take renewed steps in this direction, since many of my constituents have never heard of the aid programme?

Mr. Raison

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's support for what we are doing. I assure him that there is no doubt about our determination to involve British industry more fully in the work of our aid programme. I am sorry that many of my hon. Friend's constituents have not heard of our work. If he wishes to ask me, I should be glad to visit his constituency and inform them.

Mr. Tom Clarke

How many letters has the Minister's Department received from British industrialists since the Prime Minister quoted from St. Francis of Assisi?

Mr. Raison

I must have notice of that question.

Mr. Bowen Wells

Will my right hon. Friend, in view of his reply, support the West Indian committee's private enterprise in mounting a trade mission to Grenada, which leaves Britain in the middle of this month? Does he accept that the Grenadian economy will thrive only if the private sector is put in a position to make a major contribution to the recovery of that island?

Mr. Raison

I have no doubt that the private sector can help significantly in the recovery of Grenada, as in aid programmes generally. I should be happy to discuss with him the specific point made by my hon. Friend.